Monday, August 7, 2017

To My Sisters

I've wanted to write this blog post for a long time. I have difficulty writing or being public with things, however, that seem so special and important to me. I want to keep them close to my heart. I don't want to "cast my pearls before swine", so to say. Not that you guys are swine. There are few things more hurtful, to me, than sharing something I find particularly meaningful and having someone treat it with frivolity.

But the time has come! 

When Ezra was born I was overcome with a deep deep painful hopelessness. Maybe it was postpartum depression. Maybe it was sheer, unfathomable exhaustion. Maybe it was my already overactive anxiety. Maybe it was a mix of all three. Nonetheless, the first two weeks of Ezra's life I was in a place took me a long time to find words for. Nothing seemed adequate enough to explain the _______. I still don't have a word to fill in there. To the best of my ability, I would describe it, as the scriptures say, "the gulf of misery and endless wo." Never before had I felt something so devoid of hope. I've since decided that having a lack of hope is the very definition of hell. 

But then there were my sisters. 

I truly believe, to the very core of my being, that my sister Kirstin saved my very life when she suggested I take a Benadryl to get some sleep. I had not slept more than three hours (total) in five days. It sounds so silly to say out loud. But, that moment is when things started to turn around. Benadryl. A simple suggestion from a veteran mom. 

My sweet, angelic sisters. They sacrificed time with their families to come and clean MY house, cook ME food, watch ridiculous amounts of television, change diapers, lose sleep, love me, be my friend, and most importantly love that sweet baby of mine. The time they spent, during a time when I felt so removed from all sense of normal feeling, is sacred to me. I needed them, then, more than I could've ever expressed at the time and more than I can express now. They filled a role that wasn't theirs to fill--that of a mother, for a daughter whose own could not be there. 

I love them. Thank you Lindsey and Kirstin for teaching me what Christlike service looks like and imparting a small measure of salvation for my aching soul. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cinco en Julio

Cinco en is like a variation of Cinco De Mayo.

-discovered his feet!
-starting to put everything in his mouth, with great vigor and excitement
-does not like direct sunlight (who does, honestly?)
-direct sunlight makes him sneeze
-got on a schedule
-started sleeping in his "own room"
-is starting to figure out how to roll from back to tummy
-had small tastes of his first food
-stopped swaddling :( (kinda)
-had his first swim!
-likes being on his stomach more than in the past
-went to his first baseball game!
-started throwing the cutest squeak into his giggles
-giggles much more often
-spit bubbles, all day, every day
-chatting up a storm
-starting to play games
-loves his Pa
-Went to Zoo/Aquarium for first time

The sleep saga continues. My mother  in law told my sister in law when she had her first baby to remember that everything is a phase and whether it is good or bad, it WILL change. Man that has been true for us these last couple months, but especially this one. It seems like Ezra's sleep habits have changed every.single. week. It has kind of thrown me for a loop. After three days of good sleep habits there will be three days of not-so-good sleep habits. Can I even call them habits? Maybe I should just call them days. He sleeps pretty well overall, except for when he doesn't. On the whole it looks like things are going in the right direction. We are working towards that magical thing I have heard whispered here and there:"sleeping through the night."As of right now, he is working his way back to only eating once during the night. Some nights he will do once, some nights twice. {But some nights he wakes up every two hours and makes mom and dad want to pull their hair out.}

In an effort to encourage positive sleep habits we have tried several different things. One of those things was taking him out of our closet and putting him into the room that shares a wall with our own. Ezra is scared of the dark and during the night, if he wakes up and cant see--he gets scared. So, a room with a nightlight makes it so if he wakes up he doesn't panic. This is the only reason he is in a different room. Once we go back to Ithaca he will be in our room with us again, since, he/we don't have any other choice....and I want him to be in our room.

He started breaking out of his swaddle consistently, more during naps than at night, at 4.5 months. This would wake him up mostly because he would immediately grab his binky and pull it out of his mouth. So, we moved him back to the LoveToDream swaddle (we call it the peanut swaddle.) It isn't a traditional swaddle. It makes it so there is still some control with his hands, he can suck on the little wings, but he cant flail his arms around or grab his binky. I do miss my little baby burrito though. Baby peanuts are cute too.

First baseball game!

Z went through a bit of a growth spurt this month and started eating every three hours instead of every four, like he had been doing since he was 6 weeks old. This is also why he started waking up twice at night. Starving baby. The three hour feeding only lasted a couple weeks. The last few days we have gone back to 4 hours. He wakes up around 7, eats, plays until around 8 then sleeps for an hour. Wakes up at 9 and we go for a walk or play until 11ish. Then I feed him and he goes down for his long nap. On a good day he sleeps until 1 or 2. He has been doing pretty good and getting more consistent here. Then he wakes up and eats again. We usually go out and run errands or see friends, whatever, during this time. Around 3:30/4 he will take another nap and eat again. Then it is bedtime at 7.

When I say that he had small tastes of his first food, I mean small. I let him try and suck on a piece of watermelon and cantaloupe, for about 10 seconds. He was not very fond of either. I gave him a little pinky-dipped in mashed sweet potatoes. My dad let him taste a piece of sauerkraut. Overall he has not been a fan of anything that tastes different than what he is used to. We will start solids around 6 months.

Looking up at Daddy. This kid sure loves his Pa. He is pretty obsessed with Kyle these days. Once I had to have Kyle leave the room while I was trying to nurse him because Ezra wouldn't nurse he just wanted to look at/smile at Kyle. 

My favorite view, my favorite face.

Ezra is very serious when placed in a situation that is new to him. He won't hold onto or play with toys. He won't suck on his hands. He won't smile. He just looks around with a furrowed brow and takes it all in. He also holds incredibly still. It is honestly like an animal that has just noticed your presence--ya know what I mean? That's how Z is when he is somewhere or doing something unfamiliar. He has to analyze his surroundings before he will return to his normal demeanor. You know he is relaxed when he will start to coo or blow spit bubbles, smile and play with toys/suck on hands.

This month it seems that he has really started to GET things. I don't know exactly how to explain this, but his interactions have just become so much more aware. For example, the other day we went out on the front porch and he was sitting in the bumbo. My phone was playing disney songs and sitting on a bench. He furrowed his brow and looked from me to the other side (where the phone was, but he couldn't see) and back again over and over just confused about where in the world that sound was coming from. He knew that something should be over there making noise, but it wasn't. He is also starting to understand moods and whether things you are telling him are happy or stern. When I said he "plays games" above, I mean, he will snuggle against me and I will say some variation of "snuggle snuggle snuggle" and then he will pop his head up and look at me (smiling/giggling) and then dive back into my body again. We do this over and over a couple times a day. I never want him to stop and I never want to forget it!

Walks each day. We started using the carrier this month and I might be a little obsessed. 

Riveted. Also, check out his hair. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Family Pics!

We are blessed to have two sisters who are fabulous photographers. Emily took some family pictures for us while we were at our family reunion and WHAT!? They are so good. Thanks Em, you ROOOOOOOOCK. One day I want to be more like Emily. I want to just DO things without fear of failure. Want to try something? Liiiiike starting a photography business? Why not! I love that attitude. I wish I was more like that. Anyway, here they are. My heart. 


I am going to print this out and keep it on my nightstand for the rest of my life. I'm not even joking.

This is my favorite picture in the history of ever. 

Oh how I love Kyle Merrill!

CAN'T HANDLE THESE. CAN'T. My Ezra boy is a cherub. I've never before laid eyes on such a beautiful, perfect little face...

Thursday, June 15, 2017


-Giggles: when kissed repeatedly, during raspberries, when tickled, and when cheeks are squeezed
-Ticklish: his back and cheeks/under his chin are most ticklish
-Smiles freely
-Loves mirrors
-Smiles at the picture of my mom on the wall EVERY time he sees it
-Learned how to whine-cry
-Has an active body (lots of kicking, flailing arms, looking from side to side)
-Wants to stand, always
-Improved hand coordination
- Likes to chew/suck on his hands and blankets, but doesn't really chew/suck on other toys or objects yet
-Enjoys sucking/chewing on just one or two fingers at a time
-Likes squawking, chatting and cooing
-Loves to be outside, specifically, he loves trees
-Left side dominant, for now
-Flew across the country and did great on the plane!
-Now refuses to roll over
-Loves to snuggle up with any blanket
-Holding onto a blanket will help him calm down if he is upset
-Can turn himself in circles on his back
-This isn't a highlight, but he got his first cold this month :(
-Loves to lay swaddled but right up against to you in bed, with his head nuzzled against your chest, neck or tummy.

(once he falls asleep he will turn his head up like this, but as he is falling asleep, he keeps his face turned in right against your body and you feel concerned about whether or not he can breathe)

Continues To:
-eats well, not at all demanding
-Sleeps great for the most part--12 hrs a night, eats after the first 8 hrs
-Still has his bright blue eyes!
-Is spoiled by Kyle <3
-Personality is calm, content, curious and a little shy
-A Mama's boy
-loves T.V.
-loves bath time with Dad
-loves being swaddled

-Weight: 15 lbs
-Length: 25.5 inches
-3-6M Clothes
-Size 2 Diapers

This month Ezra has just become so much more interactive. It is so fun! He gets excited when we come in the room. He smiles the biggest grins. He squawks like a bird all day long. He kicks and marches. He likes to stand and bobble. He likes to chat with anyone who will give him the time of day. He is most interactive when he is just laid flat on his back. When he is being held or sitting propped up, he is more interested in looking around and less interested in making noise.

To our best estimation, Z battles some pretty scary nightmares every once in a while. He will punctuate a dead sleep with sudden, piercing screams. He's not awake, just screaming out of what we can only determine to be fear. The cry is so different from any other cry (pain, hunger, anger, etc.) It is so sad and scary for us (and him too, I'm sure!) The worst part is not being able to help him. We will pick him up and try to talk to him to wake him up and/or calm him down, but it is often of no use. It only happens once every few weeks. My mother instincts tell me that night terrors will be a part of our lives for many years to come.

I have to write a little blurb about Ezra's love for trees. It is such a cute personality trait right now and I don't want to forget about it! There is an aspen-like tree in our front yard. Each day I will just go out and lay him in the grass under it. He is mesmerized by the shimmering leaves. Each time a breeze he will start to kick his legs and make "OOOOOOOHHHHH WWWWAAAAAA" sounds as he watches those leaves dance. When we go for walks he will look at us, until we walk under trees, then he will just look up in the most sincere amazement and curiosity.

His hair has grown a lot more this month. He has this head of fluffy feather-like hair that stands straight up. He looks like a little bird or duck. It has been one of my favorite changes this month, I think. So cute.

Notice: feathery baby bird hair <3

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What's In MY Bag

When I was pregnant, I can't tell you how many blog posts like this one I read in preparation for having my Ezra. So, I decided to do one of my own. Feel free to SKIP if you could care less. Hopefully it goes without saying (why do we start sentences we are about to SAY by saying "it goes without saying"?) that a diaper bag for three children, or a toddler, etc. will be different than one for just one eensy babe.

I always keep a bottle of water in one of those outside pockets and a mini bottle of Purell. Purell is a MUST. When it is on the outside like that it is so convenient to ask people to use a little bit before they hold  or touch the baby.  

Oh my organizational heart feels good looking at this picture. The Skip-Hop diaper bags come with the gray changing pad you can see in the back pocket and the two pouches (blue and chevron) you see pictured here. The chevron is insulated and is specifically to keep bottles warm or cold. 

#1: Diapers and Wipes. I have a hard plastic wipe dispenser container that I fill with new wipes once every few weeks. I always have that filled along with 3-4 diapers. 
#2: Burp cloth and/or a bib
#3: A spare bottle and emergency formula. Z is breastfed, but I keep a bottle with a pouch of formula in my diaper bag at all times, just in case. My anxiety ridden self can tell you countless scenarios I have thought of where this might be needed, but I will not worry your mind with those. I have not actually purchased any formula. This is just one of those sample packets that you get, like, a million of in the mail when you're pregnant. 

#5: Snacks. When you are nursing you gotta eat! I always keep a small stash of snacks (almonds, raisins, granola bars, dried fruit, etc.)
#6: Anti-Bacterial Wipes and Tissues. Because, life. 
#7: Nursing Pads. Because, nursing. 
#8: Extra Pacificer and a Pacifier Clip. I don't use pacifier clips at home, but it is nice to tether that pacifier to my baby's body when I am somewhere in public where I really would not like his binky to end up on the ground. 
#9: Entertainment. A bitty-babe does not really need toys, but they still appreciate variety of things to look at. I keep a Sophie the Giraffe, a rattle, and a baby ring or two.  
#10: The blue pouch you see pictured above always contains some spare clothing items in case of a blow-out or other mishap. I have a sleeper or onesie and a pair of pants. It also contains a pair of sock and a hat.

And that is it! I am a firm believer in being prepared with the things you need and might need, but not having too much. Clutter is my enemy. I hope this helps inspire ideas for some prep-crazy-pregnant first time mother like me somewhere out there in the wide webiverse. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Month Three

--Mama's boy (but STARES at Kyle anytime he is in the room)
--Likes baths now
--Has learned he can kick and splash during bath time
--Can roll from tummy to back
--Very smiley
--Enjoys his play mat
--Has begun to try and reach for toys
--On the verge of full-belly giggles but not quite (little mini-giggles for now)
--Sleeping great!
--Likes sport time with Dad.....aaaaaand any other time we will let him look at the TV
--Is beginning to reach and trying to grab toys/other objects
--Snuggly little dude, likes to relax cheek to cheek
--Not a performer. Does not like doing things on cue.
--Smiles biggest at: animal noises, the word "Hi!", when other people laugh, and when mommy kisses him on the mouth!, tongue clicking sounds, rolled "r" sounds, anything noise that is loud (to a degree) and sudden

Ezra's favorite hobby is staring at the light fixture above our dining room table. We have one of those sturdy changing pads that has raised edges which I just lay on our dining room table. He will lay there, stare at the light fixture, coo *loudly*, and kick about for as long as we will let him. His affections for light fixtures are not equal. He has particular admiration for the dining room light fixture. Sometimes if he is a little fussy I will just lay him under the light. It is pretty magical. If you try to talk and play with him while he is light-watching, his little eyes will dart back and forth between the light and your face unsure which one would be better to settle on. Eventually the darting becomes so quick that you feel bad for his little eyes and concede to the light fixture just so he doesn't have to choose!

He has started sleeping "through the night." Technically, according to Dr's that is, through the night is any stretch 5-7 hours (at least that is my understanding.) He consistently gives us about 7 hour stretches. Sometimes he does 8 hour stretches, sometimes 6. And, after these long stretches he eats and goes back to sleep for another few hours (3-4). He's the BEST. In total, he sleeps about 12 hours a night, with one feeding in there.

Ezra does a great job being held by whomever. He just hangs out and lets himself be passed around, no problem--very mellow. However, if for some reason it gets to be too long of a stretch that he goes without being able to see either Kyle or I, or being able to hear one of our voices, he starts to get nervous and pout-cries. As long as he can hear one of us though, he does fine. It makes us think that maybe he is naturally a little bit shy. Whenever we are in a new place that isn't the house he gets my shirt or fingers in a vice-grip and just clings as he looks around with wide eyes. He usually relaxes once we are there for a little while, though. I can only think of one time that he has smiled while we were not in the house/on a walk i.e. one time he has smiled in public. 

April-May was the month of figuring out nap time! At first he was only taking like 20-30 minute naps at a time. He wanted to be held a lot for naps as well (which I didnt mind, honestly.) But, I did need to do homework and so this month we have been trying to figure out a better nap schedule. It was not an overnight process, for sure. But, we found a pretty good groove starting last week. He sleeps great and for decently long stretches if he is on our bed. We lay him on our bed in his, what we call, peanut swaddle (, and Kyle or I lay next to him for a minute until he falls asleep--which is generally pretty quickly. Finding a pacifier that stayed in his mouth was KEY to nap time success. I found a pacifier that came in a box of bottles we had and it fits the shape of his mouth better. I am worried about how moving to Seattle will change the great schedule that we JUST BARELY established *nervous face*

When he was first born, the nurses showed me how to break his latch while he was nursing and told me that once it seemed like he had finished eating and was just pacifying, I should break the latch. Then he started to spit up like a mad man because I was overproducing and forceful let down was ruining his life. These two things combined meant that I always cut him off. He never learned how to un-latch on his own. Around month two I decided to just let him eat until he wanted to be done, since his tummy issues had calmed down  (he still spits up a ton, but not like before) and my milk had regulated, but he had no idea how to unlatch. It has been a funny learning curve to observe. First he would throw his head back, but not let go (ouch...) over and over again until I would break the latch. Then he started to learn how to un-latch, but it was a dramatic affair. He was throw his head back as he let go and gasp in a big breath of air. Drama king. Now he has figured out that he can unlatch and then latch back on while he is eating and will spent like two minutes unlatching and then latching and then unlatching and then latching. He will look me right in the eye the whole time like "Do you see what I can do!?" It is fun to watch him learn, even small things! But, his new found skill also means he will refuse to eat sometimes ("I can let go now, so I WILL!")

Mornings are the best time of day. After a long full night's sleep and after he has nursed and has a full belly, Ezra is the HAPPIEST little guy. We spend about an hour in bed just chatting, smiling, and cuddling together. I have said to Kyle a few times: "Do you think he will do this with me for the rest of his life?" Kyle doesn't think he will be too keen on it when he is 40, or 14 for that matter, but I beg to differ! He is always going to want me to kiss him all over his face, right? RIGHT!? *Pleading voice*

This month Ezra was blessed. It was such a happy day for us. He met Grandpa Jeff for the first time and *really* met Grandpa Brown for the first time too (because he slept through their meeting last time!) Kyle's blessing for Ezra was beautiful and it was special to have both of our dads here to participate. My dad, and later another member of the branch, commented that Ezra just looked right at Kyle during the blessing--taking it all in. What a sweet little spirit we have.

Kyle's basketball team also attended, as well as a family friend of my parent's (originally) who lives in Utica, and another friend of ours here in Ithaca. I just felt so...FILLED...during the whole day! Filled with all the good feelings there are to be filled with. Mostly, gratitude.

Kyle and Alivia:

-Kyle finished up his Junior year!
-We are moving to Seattle in a couple days where Kyle has an internship with Amazon!
-We are living with my padre
-I started classes again in April. Two classes. I'm thinking i'lll do two a semester from here until I graduate. It feels like a manageable load--busy for sure, but not overwhelming.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sunday Will Come

Please watch the entire 3 minutes

My mom passed away on December 3, 2015. On December 3, 2015, Easter became my favorite holiday. In honor of Good Friday today, I wanted to share the message that has brought me peace and more importantly, brought me HOPE. When my mother passed, I felt like all goodness had suddenly been sucked from the world and my life. It left me quite empty and my soul more than broken. It was and is my Friday. 

As devastating as my Friday was/is, because of the Savior, because of that great and terrible Friday millennia ago, and because of that glorious Sunday, that first Easter morn, the grave that burst, I trust that I too will have MY Sunday. Is there a more perfect time than Easter, to remember?